In Neuville town, there is a car whose license plate number is 241 BG 50, where 50 is for French département of the Manche. But this sort of numbers' attribution on French cars began in 1950 ; number 241 BG 50 must have been given in year 1954.
When the Captain in charge of the typing pool brings the three Ryan telegrams to his Colonel, the map behind the Colonel is a Mercator Projection of the world, split at the International Date Line. Mercator Projections in 1944 would have placed North America in the center and divided the Eurasian continent equally on both sides. The decision to split the map at the International Date line wasn't officially made until the National Geographic Society decreed it in 1988.
When the soldiers are at the seawall during the D-Day scene Miller explains to Horvath that Dog 1 exit is to the west. Right after that, the soldier behind Miller with the BAR leans up on him and shouts "they're killing us because we don't have a f***ing chance and that ain't fair". When he is saying "chance" the camera changes angles and the soldier who was yelling is facing the seawall and not even talking, even though "and that ain't fair" is still being said.
During the Ramelle battle, Cpl. Henderson and Pvt. Mellish are firing through a hole in the wall of a room at advancing German soldiers. After Henderson fires through the wall, then returning fire hits him, Mellish fires two shots through the wall before charging the German soldier in the doorway. There is no sound for his first shot.
Before the last battle, the squad is listening to an Édith Piaf song "Tu es Partout", and Upham seems to be translating the song as she is singing it. But the translation he gives is from a later part in the song, one we don't get to hear.
In the town of Nieuville, before Private Jackson kills the German sniper with his sharpshooting rifle, he adjusts the parallex of his rifle scope. However, such adjustments are usually done to fine-tune the rifle scope at shooting ranges. Adjusting the settings of the scope in the field would only render the rifle less accurate.
In the end at the battle of Ramelle, you see cpl. Henderson and Mellish covering the east flank in a building with a hole in the wall. You see Mellish shooting through it with an M1 Garand, one guy pops up and Mellish shoots him, then two more guys pop up, he fires one shot and both of them die.
After you see Mellish yelling for Upham to bring him ammo in the building with the hole in the wall, the scene switches to Upham sitting against a wall. He then gets up and runs across the street past Captain Miller to go to the building Mellish is in, stops against the wall and sees about five Germans running into the building. They would have had a perfect shot on Miller since he was just sitting in the middle of the street.
In the last battle scene, Jackson is in the church tower and signals to Miller the direction, number of Panzer and Tiger tanks and troop strength approach. The first time he relays the signals, with Miller voicing what they mean, Jackson, among other signals, points five fingers down to indicate 50 troops and Miller says "50". The next time, Jackson tells of the approach of a flanking attack, uses the exact same number of fingers and signs and Miller says "30". Either Jackson got it wrong, Miller got it wrong or it was just an indication of the stress of battle.
When Cpt. Miller picks up Cpl. Upham in the beginning of the movie, Upham says his German "is clean" and had "a touch of the Bavarian". But actually there's nothing like a Bavarian accent in Upham speaking German. Though he speaks it very well and he certainly does not have a strong American accent (judging by the few lines he says in German), you can definitely hear that it is not his mother tongue.
When the soldiers are about to search through the Airborne's dog tags they head towards a single crate, meaning to use it as a table. When they reach the crate an ammo box has appeared, stacked on top. Jackson knocks the top box off.
When Captain Miller and his men decide to stay at the bridge after finding Private Ryan, all of the equipment is inventoried, and Miller is told that they have two .30 caliber machine guns. One of them is seen being hauled up into the bell tower, and later, Mellish tells Corporal Henderson he will go and get him some ammo for the .30 caliber that Henderson has. As Mellish walks away from Henderson's machine gun, another soldier walks by carrying another one, even though that one is supposed to be in the bell tower already. For this scenario to work, there would have had to have been three machine guns.
At 1:23:18 of the film, there's a wide angle shot that shows the men crossing a field. There are eight men in the field, but Caparzo is dead; there should be seven men. There are only seven men after the cut, when they assemble seconds later in the trench before they encounter the radar station.
Near the end of the movie, before the attack, an American paratrooper is attaching the detonating cord to the detonator, beginning with the right-hand clamp. A little later, we see him again, but now the left-hand wire is attached and he's screwing down the right-hand clamp.
When the German tank gets blown up in the final battle, it is clearly mid-way across the bridge, yet in subsequent shots it is still on the other side of the bridge. Also, the number of sandbag emplacements changes dramatically.
Jackson intervenes when Reiben and Horvath are having a dispute. From the camera angle when Jackson says, "Sir, we got a situation over here, " he has his pistol in his hand and pointed at Sgt. Horvath. A few seconds later, from another angle, Jackson's pistol is still tucked in his belt and he draws it and points it at Sgt. Horvath.
When Sergeant Horvath is explaining his opinion of the Ryan situation to Captain Miller near the end, he gestures with his open right hand in some shots, and is firmly gripping his weapon in other shots.
During Rieben and Horvath's heated dispute, the camera often moves to shots of Miller, Upham, Jackson, etc. When it does, you can still hear Rieben and Horvath arguing off-screen. You can hear specifically what they are saying off-screen, but then when the camera moves back to them they say the same thing, so it's as if they repeat themselves. This is especially obvious when Horvath screams at Rieben, "You are a coward, son of a bitch!"
During the last battle, Jackson and the paratrooper are in the bell tower. Just before they run out of .30 caliber bullets, they are clearly not as close to the end of their ammo belt as the next shot suggests.
The .30 caliber machine gun that Jackson and Parker use has a solid ammo-belt made of fabric, holding the bullets together (it enters from the left side of the .30 and exits empty on the right). In the next shot the .30 caliber has a disintegrating link type of belt which spits out the broken links through the bottom.
When the soldier attempts to place the first sticky bomb on the tank, he is wearing the khaki uniform. However, when he explodes, the dummy is dressed in olive drab, and standing in the wrong position.
When two surrendering German soldiers coming out from the trenches are killed just after the Omaha Beach Battle, they are shot in the stomach, but when the camera gets closer, you can see that the one on the left has been shot in the head.
After the last Tiger tank is destroyed in the final battle, Allied reinforcement troops arrive. There is a scene with a Sherman tank approaching the bridge with the troops, and it is raining. The scenes before and after have no rain.
When the Tiger tank, its treads blown off, targets the building near Ryan, Reiben scrambles to push him out of the way as Miller moves to the front and shoots through the sight. However, Miller moves to the front twice, once in the shot of Reiben running toward Ryan (the shot cuts before he can fire), and again, this time firing.
Ryan is said to be (more than once) in Baker (B) Company, 506th PIR, 101st AD. When Miller is calling out for Ryan at the Airborne rally/collection point, the trooper says to another 'Doesn't Mendelsohn hang out with a Ryan from C Company'. Mendelsohn comes forward and is the fellow with the missing ear who knows where Ryan went.
In the final battle scene, Ryan informs Miller that they can use the mortar rounds like grenades. Many of the rounds they toss, however, explode at different times inconsistent with the angle of the throw and where they would have landed. Some of the explosions occur before the mortar rounds hit the ground.
When Capt. Miller requisitions Cpl. Upham from the map bunker, Upham clumsily tries to take his typewriter with him, knocking a helmet and other items from a shelf. The camera changes to Miller, who holds up a pencil. When the camera returns to Upham, the items are back on the shelf.
During the Ramelle battle, Cpl. Henderson and Pvt. Mellish are firing through a hole in the wall of a room at advancing German soldiers. Mellish is armed with an M1 Garand. Just before the scene where Henderson fires his Thompson through the wall at the sound of footsteps on the stairs, Mellish proclaims that his rifle is jammed. He is not seen clearing it. After Henderson fires through the wall and kills a soldier on the other side, gunfire burst back through the wall and hits Henderson in the neck, mortally wounding him. A 2nd German on the other side of the wall holds his machine gun through the door and fires. Mellish ducks, then fires a last round from his Garand, which ejects the magazine clip. The shot kills the 2nd German. The gun would not have been able to fire if the gun was jammed only moments earlier.
When we first see Colonel Bryce, it's clear he is missing his left arm. But then later, when General Marshall is about to read the letter written by Abe Lincoln, for a brief second his left arm can be seen.
When the paratrooper yells "there is a 20mm," just after they grenade the Tiger, there is only 1 paratrooper an the side of the tank facing the gun. When it opens fire and it is showing the rounds hitting the men, there are at least 5 paratroopers on that side of the Tiger. Also right after the 20mm's rampage it goes to Jackson in the bell tower and he leans around the corner to try to get a shot at it, but none of the dead paratroopers are lying on/around the Tiger.
When the machine gunner in the bell tower runs out of ammo, Jackson takes over sniping. The first German he kills is on the self propelled gun and he falls off the side. The second one he kills falls near a big rectangular shaped piece of wood from one of the destroyed buildings. The third soldier he kills falls on top of the piece of wood, but there is no sign of the soldier who had fallen there right before he did.
Right after the self propelled gun blasts the church tower, it goes to Miller in a hole along with Ryan and Rieben. Miller fires off a clip at the Germans, then reloads as Ryan, who is on Miller's left, fires at the Germans with his rifle. Immediately the camera switches to a side view if Miller and he again reloads his Thompson and Rieben is now sitting next to him in the hole and Ryan is nowhere to be seen. When Rieben puts on his helmet before leaving the hole you can see Miller in the background firing his Thompson, but no sound is heard. then when he gets out and runs across the street, Miller and Ryan, who should have been in the front of the hole firing at the Germans, are at the back of the hole and then move into the front and begin firing.
When Rieben is starting to tell the story about the lady back home before the final battle, the camera is showing the four soldiers from a side view and Horvath's feet are crossed and Melish is holding his cigarette in his right hand. When the camera angle switches to a front view, Horvath's feet are not crossed and Melish has the cigarette in his left hand.
At the end of the movie after the soldiers have fallen back to the Alamo, Rieben and Miller are on the left side of the bridge (if we're looking at it from where the Germans are attacking from) with the partially destroyed building where Miller hooked up the detonator. Rieben then shouts "Tiger coming across the bridge" and provides cover fire for Miller as they both run to the right side of the bridge, Miller trailing out the detonation wire behind him. In the next seen, the Tiger fires a round at the building, and Miller is shown to still be near it and gets knocked over by the explosion when he should have been on the right side of the bridge.
At the end of the movie the second Tiger approaches the bridge. the commander, who is sticking out of his hatch atop the Tiger, shouts down into the tank to fire at the building the Americans named the Alamo, but in the very next shot when the tank fires, he is not sticking out of the hatch anymore.
At the end of the movie, the second Tiger advances onto the bridge before being destroyed. It is very clear in the next few scenes up until Upham forces the Germans to surrender that the tank isn't even on the bridge.
When the soldiers are trying to move up and deal with the machine gun nest in the D-Day scene, Miller tells Reiben, Melish, and Caparzo to provide covering fire. Reiben moves to the right and lays out on a piece of concrete giving him a clear view of the target and it shows him there several times firing as the soldiers move up. When Jackson is sent forward, Sgt. Horvath is where Reiben should have been and he, Mellish, and Caparzo are gone.
When Ryan helps Sgt. Horvath after he was shot while crossing the bridge, it shows Reiben in the background for a brief second jumping up and firing his BAR. He repeats the same motion a few scenes later when he tells Miller that the Tiger is coming over the bridge.
Right after Miller regains his hearing at the end, he looks at the detonator lying in the middle of the road. The next scene shows German troops running forward to sandbag positions on their side of the bridge and the German prisoner Miller's squad released is now back and he takes position right next to what appears to be a camouflaged artillery piece facing skyward, which would have blocked his right side. In the next shot it shows Upham looking at him from the right, and the artillery piece is not there, not does it reappear for the rest of the movie.
Right after the paratroopers take out the self propelled gun with the Molotov cocktails, there are two scenes before Reiben runs to help Ryan get out of the way from Jacksons viewpoint showing the Tiger with its turret already pointing to the left. Later on its turret is straight and it turns left to take a shot at Ryan.
When the soldiers are getting ready for the final battle, Upham is shown to be standing right near the church, but a few scenes later he is just coming across the bridge when a soldier yells at him to hustle up.
When Reiben retuns after luring the Germans down the main street all the soldiers in the foxhole have their guns up at the ready. A few scenes later, Reiben and Ryan look at each other and nod but their guns are resting easy. Immediately in the next shot, Ryan has his rifle at the ready again.
As the opening D-Day invasion moves along more and more troops are making it onto the beach from the boats and are shown hiding in groups behind the metal obstacles. Yet, continuous shots that show the viewpoint of the German machine gunners show very few soldiers coming up from the beach and no groups behind the metal obstacles.
During the D-Day landing after Capt. Miller puts his helmet back on while in the water the leather chinstrap is almost off of the rim of the helmet. The scene breaks to a soldier asking Capt. Miller what to do next. When the view goes back to miller the leather chin strap is completely on the rim.
After it shows Miller take a drink in the landing craft the camera moves back showing the soldiers in the boat and Sgt. Horvath is right next to Miller in the back of the landing craft. A few scenes later he is at the front of the boat and is coming toward the back telling everyone to remember to keep their spacing on the beach.
Miller comes ashore and is just at the edge of the water on the beach when the movie is silent during the D-Day scene. When he regains his hearing and is telling Horvath to move his men up he is waist deep in the ocean.
In the final battle, Henderson and Mellish initially set up their .30 cal between some fallen boards from one of the buildings but in a scene from their viewpoint as it is showing the first Tiger coming down the street before the shooting starts, the boards they are hiding behind are gone.
In the D-Day beach scene where Sgt. Horvath (Tom Sizemore) asks Pvt. Reiben (Edward Burns) where is his BAR, Pvt. Ruben says: "I lost it in the channel, the b**** tried to down me". You can clearly see that he and his uniform are completely bone-dry.
During the Ramelle battle, Cpl. Henderson and Pvt. Mellish are firing through a hole in the wall of a room at advancing German soldiers. After Henderson fires through the wall and kills a soldier on the other side, gunfire burst back through the wall and hits Henderson in the right shoulder, then the left shoulder as he's falling. Yet we then see him clutching his bleeding neck as if he had been hit in the neck, even though he wasn't.
When Mellish and Hederson leave there initial machine gun position the belt of ammo is fairly short but when they relocate and start firing through the hole in the wall they have a full belt of ammo in the gun.
When the ramp first drops on the landing craft, the first soldier we see gets shot in the head. The next scene is filmed from the back of the landing craft facing the beach and it shows nearly every man in the boat getting hit. The camera then goes back to the front of the boat and it again shows that first soldier getting shot again.
When Miller is wading ashore he comes to a beach obstacle and leans on it when the movie is silent during the D-Day scene, but for the rest of the silent part whenever it shows Miller he seems to be out in the open not near any obstacles.
When the man is explaining the situation of the four brothers to the General, he says that the brothers had been together but were separated when the Sullivan brothers died. Later, when Matt Damon is improvising Ryan's memory to Miller, he says that night was the last he and his brothers were together.
During the Ramelle battle, the scene where Cpl. Henderson and Pvt. Mellish are upstairs and one shoots a series of rounds through the wall, the resulting holes are not consistent with the angle of fire. The bullets are clearly shot from around 45 degrees or so, whereas the bullet holes appear as if shot from straight on
As Sgt. Horvath and the squad charge past the concrete bunker on Omaha Beach, no landing craft are visible in the large expanse of ocean behind them. Seconds later, as they gain the top of the bunker, the ocean is jammed with landing craft.
Just before Captain Miller is debriefed by his commanding officer on Omaha Beach, there is an establishing shot showing trucks and jeeps moving across dry ground which cause an immense dust cloud. Miller then walks over to his CO, and all the ground in the area is wet from heavy rain, with standing puddles and mud everywhere. Within minutes, immediately after being given his new mission to save Pvt. Ryan, as Miller walks towards his men it is obvious that the ground is again dry and passing vehicles are raising dust clouds again.
In the D-Day scene when the soldiers have made it to the seawall, Miller twice tells a radioman to relay info back to HQ. On the third time Miller grabs the man and rolls him over to reveal that the man has had his face shot off. The helmet of the dead man has a red stripe on it that wasn't there before.
During the final battle at the bridge, right after Sgt. Horvath fires the bazooka for the last time he starts to run across the bridge with the bazooka. In the bottom right corner, for a second you can see the camera operator and a man in a white shirt helping him.
After the squad reaches the crashed glider and Miller is shouting Ryan's name, the extras for the scene are visible to the left, being held back and sent in on cue to form the column of airborne soldiers
Throughout the movie American characters are shown saying "thunder" to identify friendlies, and waiting for the response "flash". But in actuality the challenge word was "flash", and "thunder" the response. The word order is important, as "thunder" was chosen as the password because of its "th" sound. (There is no such sound in German, thus a German soldier would likely be unable to hide his accent if he tried to answer the challenge.)
The driver's viewport on a Tiger I featured 6 layers of armored glass, as well as another sheet just behind them. These systems would have prevented Captain Miller from simply sticking his submachine gun up to the port and spraying the inside of the driver's compartment with bullets.
When the Rangers first meet up with US Paratroopers after destroying the Sd.Kfz 250 Half Track, CPL Henderson marks that it belong to a recon element from the 2nd SS-Panzer Division. In early June, 1944, Das Reich was stationed in southwest France outside of the city of Montauban. Elements of the division began moving towards Normandy on the night of June 7th, although the armor did not depart the area until the 9th. The division should have taken approximately three days to reach northern France by rail, but the efforts of French resistance fighters, as well as Allied air superiority, made the move much slower, as the Germans were forced to move overland by road. The Division was not ready for action against the Allies until early July. This makes it impossible for the SS troops and Mk. VI (Tiger) Tanks and Panzers at the end of the film belonging to the Das Reich Division. Also the US Army didn't come up against any Mk. VI in the NW Europe campaign until after the Normandy breakout. Before this there were only three Tiger Tank Battalions in Normandy, and they were where the rest of the vast majority of the German Armoured Divisions were, in front of 2nd British and 1st Canadian Armies.
During the sniper scene in the French village, Pvt. Jackson is preparing to make a shot against the German sniper. He utters "(so many clicks) left wind..." as he is twisting the objective ring at the front of his scope. The objective only focuses the scope to eliminate parallax, it doesn't change the windage adjustment.
During the climactic scene at the end of the movie, a P-51 Mustang drops a bomb on an advancing German tank that is crossing a bridge toward the remaining members of Capt. Miller's squad. While the aircraft is not seen until after the tank explodes, it is seen from Capt. Miller's viewpoint as it passes over the tank, along the axis of the bridge, and on toward the rear of the Americans' position. Attacking Allied aircraft would never approach from the rear of the enemy to drop ordinance toward friendly forces - they would mostly likely have attacked from an angle perpendicular to the bridge and the angle of the attacking Germans. Additionally, the P-51's shown in the movie are clearly not equipped with rockets or bomb racks under the wings.
In the scene where Jackson is firing from the bell tower, he fires 8 shots. The standard Springfield sniper rifle could only hold a maximum of 5 rounds. Jackson never reloads, and if he did, he would have had to take quite a bit of time as each round had to be inserted one at a time, due to the scope being in the way, the rounds could not be inserted using a stripper clip.
During the D-Day beach assault, German machine-gunners are shown firing continuous long bursts from their MG42's. In reality, MG crews were trained to fire in shorter bursts, in order to avoid overheating the barrels of their guns. However in the heat of battle and when confronted with such a large quantity of troops they could of being firing out of instinct. However, had they done this, they would have melted the barrels of their weapons and been unable to fire.
When CPT Miller is showing T/Sgt. Horvath the location of the German machine gun nest with the mirror on his bayonet the angle they are looking from would not be showing them the machine gun nest as it is far too "obtuse." The machine gun nest is around the corner almost 90 degrees.
After the horrific D-Day scene, when Captain Miller gets his mission some days later, a panorama of the seascape shows no ships in view. The area ought to have been teeming with ships bringing more units to the front, supplying those already present, and protecting the supply line.
At the end, the elder James Ryan is facing the camera with the channel in the background. Ryan's wife approaches, reads the name on the marker. The way the shot is set up, Ryan is facing West, which means the name on the marker faces east. This is wrong: all names at Colleville-sur-Mer American Cemetery face west towards home.
On D-Day plus 3, when Captain Miller gets his assignment, a long tracking shot of the beach shows obstacles (hedgehogs, Belgian Gates and log ramps) still intact and in neat rows. In fact, the majority of these obstacles were removed (either blown up or bulldozed out of the way) by combat engineers shortly after landing, in order to clear the beach for additional ships and equipment. Although perhaps they were left in place by the filmmakers to "round out" the scene and help viewer identify the beach as the same place where earlier fighting occurred.
Right before the scene on the radar sight, Capt. Miller states that air cover isn't available from the "Air Force" at that time. The Air Force wasn't formed until 1947, it was known as the Army Air Corps during WWII
When attempting to open up the draw on Omaha Beach, Captain Miller tells Private Jackson to give him "some fire discipline". In actual military terminology, fire discipline refers to the communication between a forward observer and some sort of in defilade firing position like artillery. Jackson is firing a rifle and does not appear to be taking fire commands through any radio or otherwise, showing that Miller's use of the term is incorrect.
By the time Miller and his squad reach the area with the downed gliders, it is already D-Day plus four. After four days, the brigadier general's body and those of the others scattered around the glider would have been much more badly decomposed than was shown.
Although the United States Air Force did not become a separate service until September 18th 1947, they were not labeled in general conversation by WWII era GI's as the Army Air Corps. When speaking of the Army's air component they were simply referred to as the "Air Force".
In the final battle, we see tanks with open roofs. While similar to the enclosed Panzer, these are in fact self-propelled guns, or "tank destroyers". The SPG that is destroyed with the petrol bombs early in the battle is a Marder III while Sgt. Horvath uses a bazooka to destroy a sav m/43 tank destroyer (both using a new German body and armament on a Czech chassis). The American soldiers probably referred to all German tanks as Panzers.
In the end of the movie, German soldiers are throwing hand grenades in a house through a hole in the wall. An American picks it up and throws it back out. A few seconds later it explodes, indicating it is a timed grenade. Contrary to some reports, the Germans did use timed grenades; the grenade shown is the Stielhandgranate 24 ("stick hand grenade").
It's commonly thought that only two or three tanks landed on Omaha Beach early on D-Day. At the eastern end, only two DD tanks of 741st Tank Battalion landed out of a total of 29 launched. Three more were landed directly onto the beach (one of the four on this LCT was damaged on the run in). 16 of 18 non-DD tanks of the 741st were also landed. At the western end, 28 DD tanks of 743rd Tank Battalion plus 14 non-DD tanks were landed dry. Officers on LCTs carrying 743rd Tank Battalion saw several DD tanks of the 741st founder almost immediately after launching, and decided to land their tanks straight onto the beach.
As the squad travels at night, the flashes and sounds of far distant explosions are seen and heard roughly simultaneously. (The sound of an explosion a mile away should be heard some 5 seconds after the flash is seen.) The key is the word "roughly"; there are so many explosions that we may well be hearing one explosion around the time we see the next.
As Upham and Mellish are loading ammo in preparation for the final battle, Upham (who is smoking) is telling Mellish how he told the supply officer he didn't smoke before leaving England. In the earlier scene where Upham is talking with the German soldier, he shares a cigarette with him. He presumably started smoking in the interim.
They did have black plastic canteen caps in WWII, made from a plastic like material called Bakelite. Also German snipers did use soft rubber scope caps on their rifles, because often time they would have to lay behind the scope for an extended period of time before making a shot. Original pictures show both of these.
When Miller's squad first enters the town of Neuville, Jackson's rifle has a short scope. When the squad comes under fire from the German sniper, Jackson now has much longer, narrower scope attached to his rifle. However, if you watch carefully, you will notice that for the entire movie so far, Jackson has been carrying a large cylindrical canister on his back, which contains the longer scope. In the town when he says "I wouldn't venture out there fellas, this snipers got talent" you can see him reaching behind him and opening the canister. In the next shot it shows him removing the small scope from the rifle and mounting the longer scope.
In the beginning of the movie when attacking the German pillbox. The Germans are running out of the pill box there are no muzzle flashes seen from the American rifles, though they fire several rounds, and the rifles seem to recoil as if fired. This is not necessarily incorrect. Contrary to what movies almost invariable show, not every shot from every weapon produces a noticeable muzzle flash. A modern rifle (such as the World War II M1) with appropriate ammunition, will not normally have a flash.
Miller uses the mirror to examine the machine gun nest and correctly states that there are two MG-42's. However, when Jackson moves to get a sniping position it shows the nest with only one MG-42 and another soldier with an MP-40 submachine gun. However, errors like this were common in stressful combat situations.
When Jackson is using hand signals to tell Captain Miller about the approaching enemy tanks, Miller says "Panzer tanks, two of them." Panzer is the German word for tank so saying "tank" at the end would be redundant. He should have just said, "Panzers, two of them." However, Miller's statement is consistent with American usage during the war.
At the beginning of the movie during the invasion scenes, Captain Miller has his Captain's bars prominently displayed on the front of his helmet. A popular misconception is that nobody with rank wore it on the front lines. This was not true for the initial D-day operations. Photographic evidence shows ranger officers with their rank in white (like Miller) or black (like Hamill) on the front of their helmets. Only after the initial D-day operations did officers and NCOs employ the white vertical stripe and the horizontal stripe (respectively) on the back of their helmets to avoid being primary targets of sniper fire.
If the oldest Ryan boy was the last to go off to boot camp, as related in James' story in Ramelle, then there was no way the 4 of the Ryan boys could have posed in uniforms for the photograph that was sitting on the shelf/furniture to the right of the door at their house, shown when their mother went to the door to meet the man from the War Dept. and the local minister. James said that night in the barn was the last time they were all together.
When the 20mm Cannon opens up on the Americans climbing on the disabled Tiger, it is obvious that the exploding soldiers are dummies, as they don't even move despite a five second advanced warning. Also, even the live actors seem to not bother to jump off the tank and disperse despite the said five second warning. This includes the Paratrooper who spotted the weapon and turned to run, but stops for four seconds while Captain Miller announces the same discovery.
When the big soldier is first seen approaching Cpt. Miller as he is calling Ryan, he is a few yards away from him. In the next shot where he calls Joe, he is approaching from the same distance as the previous shot.
Immediately following Upham's plea to Miller after the attack on the machine-gun nest, there is a shot focusing on the two dead Germans in the nest. The soldier lying supine with a fatal wound is clearly breathing heavily.
After the radar site battle, Capt Miller's men are roughing up a surviving German soldier and pull their weapons in preparation to shoot the soldier. Pvt. Jackson is armed with a 1911 semi-automatic pistol; he removes the magazine to check it, and it is clearly empty of cartridges. He reinserts it rather than replacing it with a loaded magazine.
As Capt Miller and his men assault a pillbox in the D-Day scene, they assemble behind a low wall at the very rear of the pillbox installation. Sgt. Horvath and Pvt. Reiben throw grenades over the wall at the door of the pillbox, about 30 ft away. When the grenades explode, debris showers the men from a position just on the other side of the wall they are crouched behind.
After the 20mm forces Miller, Ryan, and Reiben to relocate, is shows two paratroopers who survived the initial 20mm shooting crawling away from the tank. In the next few scenes when in shows both of the men getting shot, it is very clear in both cases that the Germans who shoot them aren't even aiming at their bodies, but rather the ground. It's particularly obvious when the second one is shot as the bullet strikes the ground next to him.
Right after the soldiers make a run for the seawall in the D-Day scene, it shows a German machine gunner firing his MG-42. There aren't any spent casings being spit out by the gun and in fact there aren't even any bullets being fed into it. The metal link belt is there, but it is empty of bullets.
In the church tower, right after Pvt. Jackson utters "Blessed be the Lord, my strength, which teach my hands to war, and my fingers to fight..." he fires his rifle at a German tank. The round hits sandbags on top of the tank, but the machine gunner three feet to the left of the impact falls dead.
When Capt. Miller is firing his M1911 pistol at the advancing German tank on the bridge, after his second shot, the slide locks halfway open, indicating a stovepipe or similar jam, but he continues firing without clearing it.
When Pvt. Jackson is preparing to engage the German sniper in the rainy sequence, he begins to adjust his scope. As he speaks "two clicks" the second click is added in post-production as the actual second click never happens. He also doesn't rotate the scope. He just twists his hand.
Several times when Corporal Upham is seen carrying .30 caliber ammunition belts just prior to and during the holding of the bridge scene, it appears that primers are missing. A closeup of Upham after he crosses the street to go up the stairs shows many of the cartridges on his right shoulder to have empty primer pockets. The shiny brass bottoms of the empty pockets are clearly visible on eight of them in a row. Most of the rest of the cartridges appear to have a white substance filling or covering the pockets.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
When James Ryan destroys the SDKFZ251 with his bazooka, they identify it as belonging to the Reconnaissance Platoon of the 2 SS Division, which didn't reach the front until June 16 and then only on the Mortain area. Capt. Miller died as written in his grave, on June 13.
When Miller is fatally wounded, Reiben helps him over to where Sgt. Horvath is laying. Miller's body is facing toward the camera while his head turns to look at Horvath, but in the next shot his body is facing Horvath.
During the Rangers' charge up the hill to the radar site, the Rangers shout down to Upham that Wade has been shot by the machine gun. When the Rangers strip Wade's upper half clothing to treat the wound, no blood is visible. Yet on the next camera shot, blood is pouring out of the wounds. It takes a matter of seconds for the skirmish to end, the Rangers to call and Upham running up to Wade's position. Wade's clothing is stripped when Upham arrives, he would have been almost certainly bleeding by then.
During the final battle, several of the paratroopers jump on the stopped Tiger tank. Lyle's position during the attack on the tank is easy to see, and when the flak gun fires on the tank the soldier in Lyle's position is riddled with shells and his head explodes. Later we see him crawling away in pain (with a head) and he is shot by a German soldier.
When Upham shoots the German soldier at the end of the movie, the latter can be heard falling down and Upham eyes him to the ground. Some have said that in the subsequent shot the German's body can't be seen. However, even though you can't see his head, you can see his back and feet pretty well lying on the ground at the bottom of the frame.
At the end of the movie, Private Ryan is comforting a dying Captain Miller, when a German tank comes barreling down on them. The tank is destroyed by a bomb released by an allied fighter, a P-51 Mustang. Ryan refers to the plane as a "Tank Buster," when in fact this was not the nickname for a P-51. "Tank Buster" is a functional description, not the identifier for any type of aircraft. Its application to a P-51, while not completely wrong, is at least somewhat inaccurate, and certainly confusing.
When Mellish is being stabbed by the German soldier it is very apparent that the knife is being stabbed into a fake torso given the way Mellish's body seems to cave in and breath unlike a normal person would.
During the last shot of the Tiger after Captain Miller is mortally wounded, modifications to the tank are visible, most prominently the piece of wood with a black rectangle painted on to represent the driver's viewport.